From Slush to Iced Cream

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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In the sixteenth century, the Italian scientist Giambattista della Porta experimented with freezing wine because, he wrote, “the chief thing desired at feasts” was wine as cold as ice. To freeze the wine, he immersed the bottle in a container of snow and saltpeter and turned the bottle until the contents froze. Since alcohol does not freeze solid, the result was a slushy drink that was soon the toast of noble Roman tables.

The freezing process made fanciful ice artistry possible. Cooks created marzipan boats and set them afloat on seas of ice. See marzipan. They dipped fresh fruits in water, froze them, and displayed the shimmering fruits on dinner tables. Finally, they created sorbets and ice creams.